Monthly Archives: December 2013

Top 10 Posts of 2013

top 10 2013

It’s time again for the annual Tasty Eats At Home Top 10!

I enjoy these little posts, mostly because I love discovering what was popular over the past year. Often times, it’s not what I would have guessed. Maybe it’s because something just happened to be timely, or maybe it’s the sheer fact that it was a dessert dish (those tend to get a lot of love), but whatever the reasons, it’s fun to dig these up. So in countdown style, here they are: The Top 10 Posts!

candy cane marshmallows

10. Candy Cane Marshmallows – What’s not to love about these? It’s like the holidays meet my favorite candy in the world to make – marshmallows!

coffee ice cream

9. The Best Ice Cream Ever…And It’s Dairy-Free! (Coffee Ice Cream) – This dairy-free ice cream really WAS the best ever. I love coffee ice cream, and this vegan version really hit the spot on a summer day.

blueberry breakfast bread

8. Blueberry Breakfast Bread – I love a good baked good for breakfast, and this bread is no exception. Which reminds me….I still have blueberries in the freezer.

thanksgiving popcorn

7. Apple Pie Spice “Un-Popcorn” – This stuff was devoured at Thanksgiving. I made it corn-free for a family member that can’t tolerate corn, but it was loved by all. It’s an excellent snack.

let go of fear

6. Healing My Digestion and My Relationship with Food – This was one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written, and perhaps among the gluten-free community, one of the most controversial. But in the 5+ years I’ve been blogging, I’ve worked to regain my health, and have struggled in many ways. I’ve finally found a path that is working for me, and felt I should share that there is more than one way to go about your journey towards health.

honey teff bread

5. Honey Teff Bread – It took a long time for me to post this recipe, after many months of tweaking. I love this bread – it holds up to sandwiches and is flavorful and hearty.

ding dongs in a row

4. Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Ding Dongs – These were an amazing amount of fun to make and eat. Yes, there were several steps, but nothing too complicated, and the end result is a gluten-free version of a childhood favorite. Win-win.

pork chop

3. Dijon and Honey Pork Chops - These pork chops remind me that I need to share more super-easy main dish recipes with you. These are a cinch to make, perfect for weeknights, and are pretty darned delicious.

quinoa protein bars

2. Quinoa Protein Breakfast Bars – While these wouldn’t be one of my most-favorite-recipes-ever, they’re tasty and a fun way to add more protein into your breakfast. They’re also excellent for meals on the go!

peanut butter chocolate crispy bars

1. Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Squares - I can easily see why these were well-liked. They’re simple to make, and combine two favorites – peanut butter and chocolate – in epic fashion. (My favorite part? They came to be simply because I wanted to use up some Chex.) They might just be my #1 easy sweet treat of the year, too!

Thank you all for being part of this blog and my life in 2013. It’s been a great year. Wishing you and your family an even more amazing 2014!

50 Gluten-Free New Year’s Eve Recipes

NYE collage

clockwise from top left: Swedish Meatballs, Chocolate Dipped Stuffed Dates with Spiced Nuts, Roasted Beet “Hummus”, and Chipotle Butternut Dip

Whether you’re hosting a big New Year’s Eve party or just banging a few pots and pans at midnight with your family and a few close friends, you’re going to need some grub. And New Year’s Eve grub has to be special – something a bit more than just ordering a pizza and calling it good.

Am I right?

And if you are a gluten-free household or have some gluten-free guests, you’ll want to be sure the munchies are something that’s friendly for everyone to eat. Hopefully, after browsing through this collection, you will have found just the perfect thing!

Beverages

Cranberry Glogg (grain-free, dairy-free)

Pomegranate Prosecco Spritzer (grain-free, dairy-free)

Reindeer Antlers (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Amazingly Good Eggnog (gluten-free, soy-free)

Chocolate Donut Hot Chocolate (grain-free, vegan)

Hot Cider Rum Punch (gluten-free, vegan)

Appetizers/Snacks

Green Pea “Hummus” (grain-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free)

Sweet and Spicy Pecans (grain-free, soy-free)

Sweet Ginger Sriracha Roasted Cashews (grain-free, dairy-free)

Hot Artichoke Dip (gluten-free, refined sugar-free, nut-free)

Creamy Chipotle Butternut Dip (grain-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free)

Spicy Chocolate Popcorn with Quinoa Clusters (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

Naturally Gluten-Free Pizza Dip (gluten-free, dairy-free option, nut-free)

Perfect Guacamole (grain-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free)

Roasted Beet “Hummus” (gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free)

Fire-Roasted Tomato Almond Dip (grain-free, vegan, sugar-free, soy-free)

Rosemary Caramel Almond Popcorn (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

Spinach Balls (gluten-free, nut-free)

Stuffed Mushrooms Two Ways (gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, nut-free)

Guacamole Bacon Bites (grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free)

“Cheddar” Salsa Stuffed Cocktail Tomatoes (grain-free, vegan, sugar-free, soy-free)

Hold the Cheese! Jalapeno Poppers (grain-free, easily vegan, sugar-free, soy-free)

More Substantial Fare

Mushroom Pesto Pinwheels (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free)

Almond Flour Pizza Crust (grain-free, dairy-free)

Lamb Liver and Wild Game Terrine with Pistachios and Cranberries (grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free)

“Texas Red” Beef Chili (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free)

Swedish Meatballs (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free)

Simple Quinoa Pizza Crust (gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free)

Wings with Mole Sauce (grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free)

Thai Chicken Wings (grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free)

Gluten-Free Mezze, including Baba Ganoush, Hummus, Falafel, and Lamb Kofte (gluten-free)

Pork Satay (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Pierogi (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free)

Bison Sliders with Honey Caramelized Onions (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Sweet Treats

Mint Chocolate Whoopie Pies (grain-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free)

Maple Syrup Sweetened Marshmallows (grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free, nut-free)

Italian Cream Cupcakes (gluten-free, soy-free)

Coffee Sugar Pie (gluten-free)

Cream Puffs with a Pomegranate Cheesecake Filling (gluten-free)

Candied Orange Peel (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Drunk Blondies (gluten-free, nut-free)

Almond Macaroon Torte with Chocolate Frosting (grain-free, dairy-free)

Oreo Cookies (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, soy-free, nut-free)

Coconut Oil Kettle Corn (gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, nut-free)

Cheesecake Pops (gluten-free)

Coffee Toffee (gluten-free)

Dairy-Free Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Pistachio Cupcakes in a Jar (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Chocolate Fudge Pecan Tart (gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free)

Chocolate-Dipped Stuffed Dates with Spiced Nuts (gluten-free, vegan, soy-free)

 

Happy New Year to you and your family!

Happy Holidays!!

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Just wanted to wish everyone a HAPPY HOLIDAY to you and your family. I hope you get to spend some quality time with the ones you love.

I am thankful for each and every one of you.

Gluten-Free Desserts of Christmas Past

chocolate-dates1

Chocolate Dipped Dates with Spiced Nuts

Typically each year I have more than one holiday recipe shared with you. This year, not so much. I feel terrifically behind this year, and haven’t even planned out my menu. All my presents haven’t even arrived yet (I ordered a lot online), and nothing is wrapped. I’ve purchased nothing for Christmas dinner. I suppose I should get on it before this weekend, when I’ll need to do my shopping along with the masses.

But if you’re ahead of me, as I’m sure many of you are, you’re finalizing your menu. Maybe you’re making Christmas cookies and treats with family this weekend. If so, here is a little round-up of past holiday favorites for your baking pleasure. As for me, I need to get back to my planning!

Spicy Gingerbread Cake

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake Balls

Chocolate Almond Fig Biscotti

Chewy Apple Cider Blondies

Candy Cane Marshmallows

Cranberry Multi-Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Coconut Candies and Peanut Butter Fudge

Nanaimo Bars

Chocolate-Dipped Dates with Spiced Nuts

Dairy-Free Fudge

Maple Pecan Freezer Fudge

Mexican Chocolate Pecan Pralines

Old-Fashioned Peanut Brittle

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Review and Giveaway: G-Free Foodie Box Club!

gff boxesphoto courtesy of G-Free Foodie

Update: This giveaway is now closed. The winner is Jeanene! Congrats, Jeanene.

Did you know there was a foodie club, made just for those of us on a gluten-free diet?

There is!

Over at G-Free Foodie, in addition to learning all sorts of things about a gluten-free diet, including recipes and gluten-free restaurants, there is a monthly box club available.

If you’ve been a bit of a self-described foodie even before going gluten-free, or if you just love to try new things, this box club is for you. For $29/month, you receive a box full of delicious gluten-free (and dairy-free, if you specify) artisanal treats. I was ecstatic to receive my box, which included some plantain chips, a scone mix, some flavored cashews, spearmint jam, crispy onion rings, some herbal tea, a tea infuser, and a basting brush. I’ve tried most everything (have yet to make the scones), and it’s all been excellent. I can’t wait for another.

What’s better – that $29 for the box is a bargain, as these products, priced individually, would likely total more than that price. Receiving this box also gets you out of your comfort zone and trying new things. The box makes a great gift for a gluten-free foodie friend or family member, or even for yourself.

gffboxsq

photo courtesy of G-Free Foodie

Want to win a box?

I’m giving a G-Free Foodie Box to one lucky reader! If you leave me a comment below telling me a delicious gluten-free foodie gift idea, you’ll be entered. That’s it!

All U.S. residents 18 years of age and over are eligible. The drawing will end and a winner will be chosen on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 11:59pm.

Good luck to all!

 

Healing My Digestion and My Relationship with Food

sloppy joe

It’s been over 4 years since I last enjoyed a Sloppy Joe on a gluten-full bun. What changed?

Disclaimer: The following are merely my experiences and should not constitute medical advice. I am merely a person on the internet and not a doctor, and should you be curious about your diet and how it impacts your health, I suggest you talk to your favorite qualified medical professional.

Since I posted about my healing process back in September, I’ve had several people interested in learning more about how I was able to heal my gut and reintroduce gluten and dairy back into my diet successfully. Since that point, I have been able to eat gluten and dairy without restriction. Even more so, I’ve been able to do so and am currently enjoying better digestion than I’ve had in years.

What happened? How is it that I spent so many years with a bad digestive system, gave up gluten, then dairy, and then continued to struggle 3 more years, only to now find myself in a place where I can go out to eat and choose anything on the menu?

In short, I had to completely reframe my way of thinking. I’d tried everything else. I went gluten and dairy-free. I removed FODMAPs. I tried an anti-candida diet. Then a high-raw, mostly vegan diet. I was mostly paleo for over a year. I juiced nearly daily. But I found that every time I removed something from my diet, it seemed I had trouble reintroducing it. I couldn’t digest anything without bloating, and I suffered from chronic constipation. This didn’t get better, no matter what I did. I also was trying to limit my calories almost constantly through these years, in order to keep my waistline in check. I worried about eating the wrong thing and suffering from digestive upset, worried about gaining weight, and I worried about not being able to maintain control of my eating. I’d often eat “clean” for days, only to bake some gluten-free (or even paleo) baked good, and fall face-first into the pile of goodies, fueling my anxiety about food, and messing with my digestion even more. I was stressed about where I was, but was also paralyzed.

When I embarked on a training plan for my very first half-marathon race early this year, I was rapidly discovering that my body wasn’t recovering after long runs. I would be tired and sore for several days. In addition, my paleo-ish diet wasn’t giving me adequate fuel. I’d hit a wall way too early in my runs. I knew that I couldn’t meet my fitness goals unless I ate more carbohydrates and more calories. Something had to change.

This realization, in a roundabout way, led me to a fledgling Facebook group called Eating the Food (an anti-diet, anti-dogma group) that helped me get away from my anxiety about food. I also stumbled upon Matt Stone’s work – specifically, Eat for Heat and Diet Recovery. These books talked of recovery using methods that frankly, at the beginning, terrified me just a bit. Eat for Heat discusses eating starches, sugar, and simple carbohydrates to raise metabolic rates. I’d tried for so long to limit these foods that I was certain I would suffer if I tried to eat them. I was certain I would be less healthy, or gain weight, or both. It seemed to be the total opposite of my kale-heavy, grain-free diet I was so married to at the time. I had to let go of that fear.

I am no scientist or doctor, and so I don’t fully understand the mechanics and relationship behind metabolism and digestive capacity, but I knew I wasn’t giving my body enough calories to do more than the bare minimum. I was generally striving for a diet consisting of only enough calories to cover my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) - or the calories my body needs just to rest – and I was requiring much more out of it than that. In addition, I was eating a lot of difficult-to-digest foods – raw, leafy greens, lots of insoluble fiber, and nuts. When a family member dealt with a digestive system-related surgery in 2012, I discovered that the doctors required a low-fiber, low-residue diet consisting of white starches, little lactose, low-fiber fruits and vegetables, and no nuts or seeds, in order to allow the body to heal the digestive system, rather than spending so much energy digesting difficult foods. In my not-scientific mind, I realized that perhaps I, too, needed to give my system a rest, and to give it enough calories to heal and do its job.

So I did.

I slowly reintroduced (gluten-free) grains, starches, and sugar. I backed off of the raw veggies (especially cruciferous) and only ate them when I truly craved them. I also backed off of the xanthan gum-heavy gluten-free products, as well as those with psyllium husk, flax and other gut-irritating ingredients. I brought in white rice, potatoes, and I allowed sweets. I slowly increased my calories so that I was eating to my Daily Energy Expenditure, or my BMR plus what I used moving around, cooking, standing and whatever I burned through conscious exercise. My belly did bloat a bit at first, but this quickly abated. I maintained a gluten-free, dairy-free diet, but I also made sure to incorporate gelatin and bone broth regularly to give my system as much as it needed to heal. I spent several months doing this. I also worked on reducing my fears associated with these foods I previously saw as “bad”, and I worked on acceptance of my body, even if I was to gain weight. I needed to reframe my mindset universally – healing my digestion and the way my body worked, for me, was dependent on my positive body image.

I found that over time, I was less anxious about food, but not just because I started to feel better. (And I DID feel better! I had more energy – I wasn’t prone to afternoon slumps, I wasn’t exhausted, I wasn’t hungry all the time, and I wasn’t overly focused about how long it was until my next meal.) I also found I no longer was prone to overeating. If I made cookies, I could have one, and that’s all I wanted. I could have candy on my desk at work and not touch it for days – I wouldn’t even think about it. That was completely contrary to my prior experiences. I learned that I didn’t have a “sugar addiction” before - I was just hungry. When my body was sufficiently fueled for long enough that it realized it was no longer going to be starving again soon, I stopped craving these things. It was a weight lifted from my shoulders that was more freeing than anything I’d experienced before.

I also tracked my body temperatures during this time, after reading Matt Stone’s work. I used to average a body temperature around 96 degrees F, which is sub-optimal. I used to always think that was normal, but I realized after a few months, my temperatures improved. They especially improved if I ate certain types of meals, such as oatmeal with a bit of sugar. (Coincidentally, this was a meal that also made me feel full of energy!) After about 5 months, I was averaging body temperatures near 98. My digestion was better than it’d ever been. I wasn’t bloated. I wasn’t constipated. In fact, I had gotten so I didn’t have to think about it (a.k.a. worry about it) more days than not. I had not experienced this in years. That’s when I got up the nerve to try to reintroduce dairy, and subsequently gluten.

Caveat: I don’t have celiac disease. I don’t even have the genes for celiac disease. So armed with that knowledge, along with some research done to show that there was not a correlation between increased gut permeability and gluten sensitivity (i.e. eating gluten wouldn’t cause harm to my digestive system that I couldn’t “feel”), I began my test.

Mind you, this test was entirely n=1. It was unscientific. I was merely starting with small amounts at first, waiting to see how I reacted, and I went from there. What happens to me might be different for others. But for me, a gradual reintroduction worked. At first, I found that small amounts of dairy didn’t cause any issues. I started with butter, then yogurts, hard cheeses, and finally softer cheeses and milk. I did the same with gluten. I started with mere crumbs, then sauces where I knew there was a small amount of gluten, to beer, and finally small amounts of gluten products – and not every day. I knew my body had to get used to digesting these things again (no different than a vegetarian who is reintroducing meat into their diet – often it takes the body a bit to build the enzymes needed). But long gone were any brain fog issues. No heartburn. No bloating. No constipation. I felt great.

Now, I can eat both of these things without restriction. In addition, I can even eat other items that caused me worse issues than gluten or dairy, such as beans. Beans give everyone gas at some level, sure, but for me, they used to cause excruciating pain. I’ve been able to reincorporate them into my diet (again, slowly) and I’m not in pain.

Does this mean I am eating a Standard American Diet (SAD)? Hardly. I might have some processed food here and there, but I still enjoy whole, fresh foods, and I cook from scratch. As you can see by the recipes posted here, many of those meals are still entirely gluten and dairy-free. I don’t “need” these foods to thoroughly enjoy eating, but I’m elated to not have to restrict. Most importantly, I’m happy that I don’t feel fragile or sick.

Will the same work for you? I don’t know. I’m not a medical professional. If you’re on a gluten-free diet because you have celiac disease, gluten is not your friend. Tasty Eats At Home is here to share ways to navigate through life as easily (and as deliciously) as possible while on a gluten-free diet. But if you don’t have celiac disease (if you think you do, please get tested!), then perhaps discussing your situation with your doctor is the way to go. Contrary to what so many (non-doctors) say, gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity is not necessarily a permanent thing. Do your own research - and stick with tested, verifiable research studies for good information. (There is a lot of kooky stuff out there - believe me, I bought into my fair share of it.) And most importantly, listen to your body, and quiet the dietary dogma in your head. If your body vehemently tells you not to eat something, then don’t eat it. But ultimately, this is your journey, and you are the captain of your own ship. Sail it.

Turkey (or Chicken) and Gluten-Free Parsley Dumplings

It’s been years since I’ve made chicken and dumplings. Early on in our relationship, my husband did more gourmet cooking than I did. Somewhere along the way, the tables turned, but he has always made his famous Turkey Gumbo. Usually, I’d save the excess broth, full of cayenne and turkey goodness, and use it to make spicy chicken and dumplings. Of course, at the time, my dumplings were biscuits from a can. But still, the dish was a once-a-year specialty, and we adored it.

This time around, I opted to make turkey and dumplings. There was no gumbo (that might happen before the year is out if I ask nicely, though), but I had leftover turkey thighs and wings in the freezer that I didn’t use for gravy at Thanksgiving. I opted instead to use them for the meat for this dish, and some chicken broth I’d made a while back. So instead of turkey broth and chicken, this is chicken broth and turkey. You with me?

Honestly, you could just as easily use a while chicken, cut up, in place of the turkey I used. It would be just as delicious, and I’m imagining it’s easier to locate a chicken than turkey thighs and wings. But whatever you use, be sure and make dumplings. Because in my opinion, it’s all about the dumplings.

Good dumplings are fluffy, pillow-y clouds of deliciousness that sop up the broth from the soup. Bad dumplings, on the other hand, are none of these things. I’ve had bad dumplings. Not the canned biscuit ones – to be perfectly honest, those were not half-bad. I’ve had bad ones at restaurants. I’ve had failures in my own kitchen when attempting to make them from scratch as well. Thankfully, these are definitely not of the “bad” variety.

These dumplings are pillow-y. Full of flavor. The parsley mixed into the dough really makes them special. While the turkey (or chicken) soup is delicious on its own, these dumplings take it to the next level. And when it’s cold and icy (like it was this past weekend here in North Texas), they warm your belly like nothing else can. They’re perfect for a day when you and the family have been outside in the cold, or just need a bit of comfort. It’s a bowl full of happy.

Turkey (or Chicken) and Parsley Dumplings (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 large turkey thigh and 2 turkey wings (or 1 3-lb chicken, cut up)

Salt and pepper

3 T olive oil

1/2 c diced onion

1/2 c diced celery

1/2 c diced carrot

1 garlic clove, minced

1 t minced fresh sage leaves

1 t minced fresh thyme leaves

4 c chicken broth

1/2 c coconut milk

Dumplings:

1/2 c superfine brown rice flour

1/2 c sweet white rice flour

1/2 c tapioca starch

1/2 c cornmeal

1 T unflavored gelatin

1 heaping tablespoon baking powder

1 t kosher salt

1 c coconut milk

1/2 c water

2 T minced fresh parsley

Salt and pepper as needed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season turkey or chicken with salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet for 30-45 minutes or until cooked through. Remove and allow to cool to touch.

While the poultry is cooking, in a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and carrot and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, sage and thyme and sauté for another minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and allow to simmer.

Next, make the dough for the dumplings. Whisk together the flours, cornmeal, gelatin, baking powder, and salt. Pour in the coconut milk and water and mix in. Add the parsley and stir in as well. Set aside.

Once the poultry has cooled, remove the skin and the meat from bones, and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces and place into the simmering broth. Add the coconut milk. Stir in and taste to adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Drop rounded tablespoons of the dumpling dough into the simmering soup. Cover pot, leaving lid propped a bit open, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid; allow to simmer for 10 minutes more.

Serves 4.

Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

20 Edible Gift Ideas at The Balanced Platter

collage

Looking for something special to make for your family and friends for the holidays? Check out my collection of edible homemade gifts over at The Balanced Platter! There’s something for everyone – from my Habanero Hot Sauce to Caramel Rosemary Popcorn and everything in between.

Check it out today!

Candy Cane Marshmallows

candy cane marshmallows

I was enjoying a hot chocolate the other night, and felt it was missing something. Sure, it was delicious and rich, but still, it needed a little more. Seeing as how it’s December and time for all things candy cane, I decided I would whip up some marshmallows. Candy cane marshmallows, that is.

These are easy to make. If you’ve never made or eaten homemade marshmallows, you’re in for a real treat. They’re naturally gluten and dairy-free. But unlike the bags of uniformly cylindrical Stay-Puf variety at the store, these aren’t stale and lacking in flavor. Homemade marshmallows are a real treat. A candy you would genuinely eat by itself without a second thought.

Of course, I enjoy them best on top of cocoa, coffee, or dipped in chocolate fondue (something we often do for New Year’s Eve). Typically I just make vanilla marshmallows, or if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll throw a tiny bit of almond extract in them as well. Nothing too out of the ordinary.

But crushed candy canes take them to a whole extra level of holiday cheer. They’re light, fluffy, and have a delightful peppermint essence that welcomes winter with a smile.

Toss a few in your hot chocolate, or simply munch away. I won’t tell if you just sneak a few. It’s the holidays, after all.

Print Recipe

Candy Cane Marshmallows (gluten-free, dairy-free)

About 1/2 c powdered sugar

2 T unflavored gelatin (I like Great Lakes)

1/2 c cold water, divided

1 c granulated sugar

1/4 c maple syrup

1/8 t kosher salt

1 large egg white

2 t vanilla extract

1/4 t peppermint extract

3 candy canes, crushed (I like Surf Sweets)

Oil the sides and bottom of an 8X8 inch metal baking pan and dust with powdered sugar. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer pour 1/4 cup of the water and sprinkle the gelatin over.

In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, maple syrup, remaining water, and salt over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Heat over medium-high heat, boiling (don’t stir) until temperature of sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees F. Remove pan from heat and carefully pour hot sugar mixture into the bowl of the standing mixer. Stir until gelatin is dissolved.

Beat mixture on high speed until white and thick and until it’s nearly triple in size, about 5-6 minutes.

Meanwhile, using a hand mixer, beat the egg white in a medium bowl until just stiff. Pour the egg white and extracts into the sugar mixture and beat until combined. Add a third of the crushed candy canes into the mix and stir to combine.

Scrape the mixture out into the prepared baking pan, trying to spread out as evenly as possible. (Don’t worry if you can’t scrape all of it out – marshmallow gets quite sticky!) Sprinkle with remaining crushed candy cane and powdered sugar.

Store in refrigerator for at least 3 hours to set.

Remove and using a thin knife, go around the edges of the pan to release the marshmallows. Invert the pan over a cutting board. Sprinkle with more powdered sugar as needed, and using a pizza cutter, cut into squares.

Store in refrigerator until ready to be served. Keeps for about a week, although I doubt they will last that long.

Habanero Hot Sauce

habanero hot sauce

Early in the spring, I planted several pepper plants – one bell pepper, one jalapeno, and one habanero. Unfortunately, cucumber-pocalypse happened, and the cucumbers dwarfed these plants. You couldn’t even see them. I thought my pepper season was a flop. But when the cucumbers gave up the ghost, and I pulled up the vines, the plants were still there. So I opted to nurture them a bit and try for a fall season full of peppers.

It wasn’t a bad season, in spite of everything. I had a good handful of bell peppers, a couple dozen jalapenos, and a couple dozen habaneros.

peppers and eggplant

Well, only a few ripe habaneros, truthfully. We had a cold snap a few weeks ago, and even though I covered my plants, the pepper plant didn’t survive, so I pulled a bunch of green habaneros. They actually ripened on the counter, much to my happiness.

Except then, I had to come up with something to do with over 2 dozen habanero peppers.

Hot sauce was the answer!

I love a good hot sauce. I’m a big believer in Sriracha and Slap Ya Mama, but would never hesitate to try a new sauce. A few drops of a good sauce can make tamales sing, turn my boring breakfast of hard-boiled eggs into a delight, and can turn a bowl of chili into my favorite meal ever. This sauce can do all of these things.

Caution: it’s not for the timid. Habaneros definitely pack a punch. Just a few drops will do. But it’s more than just searing heat…there’s a subtly sweet background, thanks to some carrot and a touch of brown rice syrup. The sweetness compliments the peppery heat of the habanero perfectly. I can’t wait to use it on everything imaginable. I may or may not be planning my meals for next week around the ability to apply this stuff.

Of course, it’s great as a homemade, edible gift as well. The holidays are coming up, and sometimes a small, homemade gift can mean a lot. I am a fan of making edible gifts, and this is definitely something you could make ahead of time, pour into a cute bottle, and give to your favorite chili-head. I happen to have one of those in my family. If I don’t eat it all myself, there might just be a bottle in this person’s future. Or maybe I just need more habaneros. We shall see.

Print Recipe

Habanero Hot Sauce (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

About 20 habanero peppers

4 large garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 c distilled white vinegar

1/2 c water

1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 c lemon juice

1 t kosher salt

1 t smoked paprika

2 t brown rice syrup

Before you start to handle the habaneros, please be cautious. These are pretty hot. Wear gloves when touching the peppers, or you will regret it, as the hot oils will seep into your hands. If they don’t burn your hands, then when you touch more sensitive areas (your lips, tongue, eyes, etc.) it will burn, and that’s no joke.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Start by cutting each pepper in half, removing the stem, and scraping out the inside and the seeds. Cut each garlic clove into 3-4 pieces. Place in a single layer on a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper and roast for about 20 minutes or until brown on top. Keep an eye on them, as you don’t want them to burn. (Another note: you may want to open up a window, as this process can get pretty fragrant. I was sneezing just a bit.)

While the peppers and garlic are roasting, place the water, vinegar and carrot in a small saucepan and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the carrot is soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Place the peppers, garlic, carrots and vinegar in a blender, along with lemon juice, salt, smoked paprika, and the brown rice syrup. Blend, scraping down the sides as needed, until completely smooth. If it’s too thick, then water and vinegar, alternating a few tablespoons at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.

Taste the sauce (be careful, just a few drops would be enough!) and adjust your seasonings as needed.

Store sauce in a glass jar or bottle, refrigerated, for several weeks.